High-profile Defense Attorney John Burris has announced he will file a $25 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Oakland man who was shot in the back by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer.
The deadly January 1 incident began as a fight aboard a Fremont-bound train among passengers returning from New Year's Eve revelry. When the combatants were detained by BART police after the train was stopped at the Fruitvale station, Grant was among those who was initially told to sit against a wall on the above-ground platform. Amidst indistinct shouting, Grant was then flipped over onto the ground with his face to the concrete floor. Eventually, the situation devolved to a point at which Grant was being held down by an officer with a knee in Grant's back. Finally, with one officer on Grant's left seeming to be grabbing for his hands to place behind his back, that officer holding Grant down reached for his gun, unholstered his weapon, stood over Grant, held the gun at Grant's back, and cocked it. It discharged. The other BART cops were stunned into paralysis for a moment. The officer who fired the shot held his hands away from his body in seeming disbelief at what he had done.
Now, keep in mind everything I have just described is a result of viewing video of the killing not from BART surveillance cameras, which are all over the train stations; it's from a cell phone video of a BART passenger who shot it through the window of a different car in the train. BART has insisted it has no video of the incident that shows the actual shooting, stating that all of the cameras are not connected to recorders. That is ludicrous on its face, but we will not know until later if it's a ludicrous lie or a ludicrous policy.